Social media has taken on the role of the police when it comes to naming and shaming abusers. Why? Has this become a society where every Tom, Dick and Harry is vulnerable to being accused or is social media empowering victims to speak forward and nobody quite realised how prominent sexual assault is – especially by those friendly faces we’ve loved for decades on our TV screens.
Last year the Ministry of Justice reported that fewer than 1 rape victim in every 30 can expect to see his or her attacker brought to justice. Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people suffering the trauma.
Could these figures be the reason victims are shying away from police and instead turning to their computer screens to accuse perpetrators and, in turn, punish those they name and shame.
Multiple men call a woman a slut or a whore, you believe it. Multiple women call a man a rapist, you question it. Enough is enough. #metoo
— She’s woke, tho. (@ShesWokeTho) 14 November 2017
However, the main issue with this new #trend of confronting abusers online means that those who are wrongfully accused are not innocent until proven guilty but merely innocent until enough people share the post.
This radical movement, of sharing sexual abuse stories and naming abusers on social media, is a massive step forward for those who have felt unable to confront abusers in the past. However just as many people are reacting negatively to the notion claiming that it’s ‘too easy’ to people to falsely accuse. Without a judge to try a claim and find guilt many any deciding guilt, and innocence, on likeability.
Ed Westwick needs to be convicted in court before I believe this. No I’ve never seen Gossip girl & I don’t think he’s cute. Proof please.
— Haley’s Comet (@haleys_storm) 7 November 2017
One sexual abuse victim found the courage to comment on this new trend, while remaining anonymous, and said:
“I have been sexually assaulted (and worse) twice. ”
“He got into the bed with me but again we had shared a bed before they got together so I thought nothing would happen, but, as the night went on I felt forced to sleep with him and this is how I lost my virginity, I have only ever told a few friends because I am scared that if I join in #metoo on social media he (or others) will realise that I am talking about him and think I’m trying to get out of being the friend that slept with someone’s boyfriend.”
She also went on to add that victims coming forward on social media is not a witch-hunt but a positive thing:
“I don’t think it is a witch-hunt. I think people are coming forward because they do feel empowered.”
“As Margot Robbie said…
as individuals we are powerful but as a group as a force we are invincible
“…and I think that’s why people are coming forward because they don’t feel alone but then I don’t feel that I can come forward because of my experience and because I still have to act like I like these people if I see them on nights out etc.
“I know that if I came forward that wouldn’t be then end it would be as bad as it was when everyone found out that we had slept together.”
Scott Francis, 20, another victim of sexual assault agrees with this attitude and shared his views and experience on camera in a bid to empower others to speak out.